US intelligence officials to Obama: It wasn’t Assad

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A dozen former US military and intelligence officials have told US President Barack Obama that they are picking up information that proves Syrian government was not responsible for the chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.

“We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this,” they wrote to Obama.

Writers of the letter who are from the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) said they chose to assume that Obama has not been fully informed because his advisers decided to afford him the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”

“Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue,” the letter read.

They added that according to their confidential sources, “CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you (Obama)”.

“There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.

According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.

We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.

In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and US intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.”

The letter goes on to say that:

“Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a US-led bombing of Syria.

At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government.

The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of US intelligence officers.”

The Obama administration is trying to get international support for attacking Syria, but it has failed to even convince its Arab allies to accompany the US military.

According to US Secretary of States John Kerry, US Middle Eastern allies have agreed to give financial support to a military strike, but they will not take part in it.

Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church warned against military actions against Syria and urged world leaders to pull humanity out of a “spiral of sorrow and death.”
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Syrian “gas rockets” appear homemade and incapable of flying 5-10 miles to target

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Photos of devices allegedly used to carry Sarin gas show they appear to be homemade and are clearly incapable of accurately reaching targets 5-10 miles away. That is crucially important because the State Department report asserts that the gas barrage was launched from gov’t controlled territory. But the map (below) that accompanied that report shows that several of the targets were miles away from the area in pink shown to be under the control of government forces.

These rockets have only the crudest stabilizers, no guidance systems, and would be highly inaccurate at any significant distance, which is why they are unlikely to have been the weapon used in the attack of 8/21, if the US target map is accurate along with the statement that they were launched from government-held territory.

Here’s the State Dept. map of the 12 alleged targets in the North Damascus suburbs. Note the distances of some of the targeted neighborhoods from government-held territory (in pink):

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Something is clearly wrong either with the State Department report or accounts that say that these types of rockets were used to deliver the Sarin gas that night.

NOTE: I am the OP. I am relying on this information contained in the State Dept. report:

http://blogs.wsj.com/…

The Attack:

Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.
According to a Foreign Policy article:http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/…

(T)hese rockets have now became a cornerstone of the West’s case that the Syrian military was behind the nerve gas massacre of more than a thousands people in the Damascus suburbs last week. U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted earlier in the week that only the Assad regime “has capacity to launch CW with rockets.”
An American intelligence official told Foreign Policy on Tuesday that the rockets found at the scene of the attack on the East Ghouta region were a strong indicator that the strike involved chemical weapons. The rockets were largely intact — rather than completely destroyed, as they would be if they been carrying high-explosive warheads.

An initial report by the Guardian on 8/22 claimed that witnesses had identified two launch sites: the Al-Mazzah military airfield south of the city and a military museum in an area of central Damascus that was identified as being “government controlled.”  http://www.theguardian.com/…

There’s a couple problems with that:

1) the airfield is at least 15 miles from the easternmost target of Duma and
2) the location of the military museum is shown on the State Department map as not within “regime-controlled” territory; furthermore, that second location is at least six miles from Duma and the other eastern and southeastern target areas. [The museum is located where the second “s” in “Damascus” appears on the State Dept. map]  

The observed range of this type of rocket is about 2 miles, as shown in the sole existing video of one being fired and impacting at the western edge of the city: see, http://brown-moses.blogspot.ca/
There has been some conjecture that these devices are shot from the same launch tube as the Iranian-made Falaq-2, a modern artillery rocket with an advertised range of just over 10kms (6 miles).  The larger of the two versions of the Syrian rockets appears to have roughly the same outside diameter as the Falaq, about 300mm.  However, they are very different in design and performance.  It is highly implausible that these devices have anywhere close to the same range as the Falaq-2, as their shape is highly unaerodynamic and they lack the spin-stabilized propulsion system of the much more sophisticated Falaq-2 rocket.  Here is the Falaq-2:

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Why is range, accuracy and sophistication of the rockets and delivery devices important? Sarin is not very effective over a large area unless the liquid is delivered in an aerosol form at just above ground level.* With crude rockets and warheads, that means that large numbers (many hundreds) of such weapons would have had to have been used in massed barrages to produce the level of mortality claimed. Because they are inaccurate beyond a short range, and cannot be aimed for mass barrages at long distance, these rockets may not have been effective for use in the way described in the report. We have not yet seen any evidence produced by the US government that these weapons are even capable of being used at relatively long distances as the State Department claims.
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*The best detailed treatise on Sarin, its manufacture, characteristics, and its effects and forensic details, is by Dan Kazseta, a US Army Chemical Corps veteran and consultant, available here (fairly long, but all informative): http://newsmotion.org/…

Source: Daily Kos